The new Charity Governance Code: the ‘go-to’ resource for charities

After a year of discussion and consultation, I am delighted that we are finally launching the new Charity Governance Code. The Code provides a framework for charities to meet current day expectations of what good governance looks like, and it will help charities shape a continuous improvement to their approach.

The Code is overseen by a steering group of sector infrastructure bodies, including ICSA: The Governance Institute; and I chair the group, in an independent capacity.

In writing the new Code we have looked at good practice found in other governance codes and we have worked hard to listen to as many voices as possible so that we get the Code right. We received over 200 responses to our consultation on a draft version and we have also appreciated the technical input, advice and support that we have received from critical friends along the way including; for example, Chris Hodge, now an adviser to ICSA, and a former Director of Corporate Governance at the UK’s Financial Reporting Council, and Sandy Adirondack, a specialist in the legal aspects of charity governance.

We are delighted that the Charity Commission has endorsed the Charity Governance Code; they describe it as representing a standard of good governance practice to which all charities should aspire. The regulator is encouraging all charities to read, follow and apply the code proportionately to their circumstances.

Some of the changes that we have made following consultation include:

  • Looking again at the Code’s architecture to ensure there is a connection and logic between each principle’s outcomes and the related recommended practice(s).
  • Clarifying that the Code is a best practice document and not a regulatory requirement. That said, clearly, we would like as many charities as possible to adopt the Code.
  • Explaining what we mean by the ‘apply or explain’ reporting arrangements. We are encouraging charities that adopt the Code to publish a brief statement, in their trustees’ annual report, explaining their use of the Code. We anticipate that this report will be in the form of a short narrative rather than a lengthy ‘audit’ of policies and procedures. Some charities work in areas, such as housing and sport, which have their own sector-specific governance codes. These codes may well take precedence over this code and such charities are encouraged to say in their annual reports which governance code they follow.

You can find the Code on our new, interactive website

We will keep the Charity Governance Code under regular review so that it stays abreast of sector and governance developments.

We would welcome your feedback on the Code, and we look forward to seeing how charities use and adopt the Code. 

Rosie Chapman is Chair of the Charity Governance Code Steering Group

Any feedback on the Code can be sent to ICSA’s Policy Manager, Sheila Doyle, at

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